Spec read­ers of­fer to help house refugees af­ter read­ing Satur­day’s fea­ture on Hamil­ton as a sanc­tu­ary city

Lo­cal res­i­dents of­fer ac­com­mo­da­tion af­ter read­ing Spec­ta­tor ar­ti­cle about Micah House

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thes­pec.com 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

Hamil­ton is once again ready to wel­come refugees with open arms, just as it did with the Viet­namese boat peo­ple in the ’70s, the Koso­var refugees in the late ’90s, and many oth­ers flee­ing tor­ture and death in the past few decades.

And while those in the past were of­ten spon­sored refugees, the cur­rent refugee claimants com­ing across the Cana­dian bor­der while flee­ing the U.S. — ei­ther legally at bor­der cross­ings and im­prop­erly at un­guarded cross­ings — are also touch­ing hearts here.

Sev­eral city res­i­dents con­tacted Micah House, Hamil­ton’s lit­tle­known emer­gency shel­ter for refugees, within hours of read­ing a Spec­ta­tor story Satur­day about it.

In the ar­ti­cle, Micah’s di­rec­tor, Rev. Scott Jones, spoke of look­ing for peo­ple able to house any over­flow of refugees who make it to Hamil­ton for up to two weeks at a time should the flow of claimants from the U.S. in­crease, which it’s ex­pected to.

“It’s re­ally great to be able to share what we have,” said Karen Trol­lope-Ku­mar, who of­fered empty rooms in her West­dale home.

Trol­lope-Ku­mar and her hus­band are med­i­cal doc­tors. They lived in In­dia for 11 years prac­tis­ing medicine there be­fore re­turn­ing. That likely gave them a global per­spec­tive on life, she says.

“I re­ally sup­port the idea of pro­vid­ing refugees with a start in Canada,” she says.

Res­i­dent Kim Ed­wards said she, too, would like to help out. She says she’d been made keenly aware of the is­sues fac­ing refugees when her daugh­ter’s New Zealand fi­ancé, whose pro­fes­sor par­ents fled Iraq years ago to New Zealand, told her he’d pre­fer Canada as his coun­try.

Kath­leen Costello felt the ar­ti­cle and the story of Hamil­ton be­ing a sanc­tu­ary city high­light the need for safe places for refugee claimants, and would like to of­fer a base­ment apart­ment in her home.

Even Port Dover res­i­dent Heather Bell, 87, wants to of­fer rooms in her home.

“You touched our hearts,” says Bell of the Spec­ta­tor ar­ti­cles and of the im­ages on TV news of refugees com­ing across with suit­cases and chil­dren in their arms.

“There are peo­ple who will rise to this chal­lenge in Hamil­ton,” she pre­dicted. Bell said she found the ar­ti­cle on Micah House as­tound­ing. “Oth­er­wise, we’d never have heard of it.”

Bell, who came to Canada as an im­mi­grant in 1975, said it is fright­en­ing what refugees have to go through.

Rev. Scott Jones, Micah House’s ex­ec­u­tive-di­rec­tor is grate­ful for such pos­i­tive feed­back and of­fers of help and said he will be fol­low­ing up on the of­fers.

“It helps us tremen­dously be­cause it helps us serve more refugees, ul­ti­mately. The sooner we can put peo­ple up in those places, the more we can help at Micah House.”

Micah House, a four-bed­room house in cen­tral Hamil­ton, houses about 60 refugees each year, al­though this past year it was 90. The av­er­age stay is two months.

Jones said he’s not en­tirely sur­prised by the com­mu­nity of­fers of help.

“This is a very sup­port­ive com­mu­nity,” he says, adding it feels “re­ally good’ to hear from peo­ple Micah House has had no prior con­tact with, of­fer­ing room in their homes.

“I find that en­cour­ag­ing for the refugees — that the com­mu­nity gets it. That this is real and this (of­fer­ing shel­ter) is some­thing we can do in Hamil­ton — and that peo­ple are will­ing to do it.”

Rev. Scott Jones of Micah House

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